Happy 2nd Birthday, Aria! An Entry That’s Not About Aria.

… OK, maybe it’s a little bit about Aria but I’m going to take a different approach this year and instead of writing a letter to her, I’m going to write a letter about me. I figured that by the time Aria gets to the age that she’ll be able to read and understand what I’ve written, this blog will be long gone and forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, Aria’s birthday is everything to me but it’s also a good time to look back and reflect on the last 2 years. I think that’s what parents do on their kids birthdays – they celebrate them and then think about the year that just flew by. I just didn’t want to write the same type of blog every other parent blogger does because it’ll be the same “you’re so sassy like me” or “you’re so smart for your age” entry. Not this year, folks.

Over the last 2 years, the question of “what’s it like to be a Dad, now?” has come up a lot and I only ever say “it’s good!” but it’s so much more than that. It’s literally the best thing that has ever happened to me and there are days that I think to myself “why didn’t we have Aria in our lives sooner?” because I can’t imagine a life now without her in it. They say having a child is the best way to test how strong of a person you can become and it’s true. It changes every single molecule in your being and it forces you to look at the world in a whole new light. You become more aware of someone other than yourself and selfishness starts to turn into selflessness quicker than you think. The days of “me, me, me” are long gone and you begin to prioritize something greater than yourself. It’s fulfilling in a way you wouldn’t know until you truly want to give every piece of your heart and energy to a little kid you’ve helped create.

From the second she was born, I’ve been proud to be her Dad and for every second thereafter, I have never fallen in love with such a small person over and over again as many times as I have. I find myself having conversations with a 2 year old randomly most days and more often than not, it’s about absolutely nothing but it means absolutely everything to me. There are car rides where we will spend half an hour talking about the clouds and what size they are or which of her fingers is which and I wish we could stop time for a moment so I could just cherish it a bit. Days go by so fast and I remember wishing we could talk with each other sooner, and now I’m wishing things would slow down because I’m afraid I can’t remember everything.

Being a parent splits you into two things: your former self and your new self. My former self slept late and woke up whenever he wanted. He spent all his money on materialistic things and on fads that would mean nothing in a year. He cared only about himself, and his way, and his things. His heart was caged and selfish. The new self – the Dad self – he has bags under his eyes, he’s tired and exhausted most days. He’s scared and anxious to make sure he’s raising his little girl perfectly. His time is more precious now.. But his heart – his heart is full and overflowing. He’s now fueled by love and not greed. The former self – I don’t miss him all that much, nor do I think about him anymore. He’s in the past and I think he belongs there because no matter how uncertain the new self’s future is, I think he’s a better version of me.

For the last 2 years, every day has been a learning experience and every time that I’ve made a mistake, I’ve learned from them quicker than I ever have before because I don’t want to fail her again. There are days where you’ll just want to quit – you’ll want to stay home from work, and not move from bed, and not pick up any toys, and not change any diapers, and not argue about eating food – nothing. But all I have to hear is “Daddy!” and I realize again what my motivation is and that I can’t quit, because quitting now means giving up on her. At the end of the day, when we put her down to sleep and we go back and let our weight fall into the bed with another day in the bag, I can’t help but wish she was still up so we could play some more. In an ironic and funny way, Aria has taught me a lot more about success than I’ve taught her, and even though we think it’s one-way – it’s very much both ways. Kids teach us so much more than our ignorant parent minds think they do – you just have to listen.

Aria is 2 today. She knows Daddy’s real name is Jason and Mommy’s real name is Diana. She knows yoga and that she has to say Namaste when she’s done. She knows when to stop and go at a traffic light. She knows how to manipulate people for more candy. She loves telling people the story about how she hit her head and had to put a bandaid on. She hates sand, but loves water. She decides which shoes to put on depending on where we’re going. She loves bubble tea and chicken nuggets. She’s terrible. She’s two. And I don’t think the “terrible *insert age here*” will ever go away from here on out, but that’s OK because we love her. Happy birthday, buttmunch!

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